Publication Details

Coulson, J. C., Oades, L. G. & Stoyles, G. J. (2012). Parent's conception and experience of calling in child rearing: A qualitative analysis. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 52 (2), 222-247.


The concept of "calling" has evolved from a religiously oriented description of occupation to an integrated, broad, and multidimensional construct that is associated with optimal vocational outcomes, personal fulfillment and meaning, and contribution to the "greater good." This article investigates the relevance of calling in the parental domain and explores the experience of calling in child rearing. Using interpretative phenomenological analysis, 11 qualitative, semistructured interviews were conducted with mothers and fathers. Different parents were interviewed at three distinct developmental time points in their child(ren)'s lives: while their child was an infant (<2 >years), while their children were of primary school age (aged 4-12), and when their children were in their late teens or early 20s and were more or less independent (>17 years). Parents of both genders and across the range of ages showed strong similarity in their definitions and experiences of calling-oriented child rearing. Parents' definitions and experiences were also consistent with the conception and experience of calling in previous research. Cultural concerns related to free will and religion are discussed. This research demonstrates that the concept of calling is relevant in child rearing and that the sense of calling may also be associated with optimal outcomes in this domain. Recommendations for future research include the need to develop a measure of calling in child rearing and the usefulness of targeted interventions aimed at enhancing the sense of calling in parents.

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